Trip of a Life Time

travelling Oz

What to look for in a trailer

 There are a lot of trailers around and not all of them are good quality. Here are some tips on what to look for for when looking at trailers.

Look at the Chasis. Is it fully welded or just tack welded. A good trailer should be fully welded. Tack welds are used to hold parts in place before being welded properly but are not as strong as fully welded joins. Also are the sheets/joins on the trailer fully welded. This helps to seal the trailer and keep water & dust out. We looked at a trailer that the floor sheets were only tack welded and we could see day light through the joins. This would allow dust and water into the inside of the trailer and yet was addvertised as a full offroad trailer.

For offroad trailers check that the draw bar goes fromthe front to the back of the trailer in 1 length, not joined or welded only at the front of the trailer. Over lots of corrugations this becomes a weak point. A draw bar that runs the full length of the trailers give greater strength. This also allows if needed for a tow point to be attatched to the rear of the trailer.

What is the ball weight of the trailer. The ball weight is the downward pressure the trailer puts on the tow ball of the car. As a general rule it should about 10% of the overall weight of the trailer, but no more than the car manufacturers spec's. We can move the front of the trailer when the trailer is  off the car. This is really handy to move the trailer around before setting up to best enjoy the veiw or make it more private. Obviously the more weight on the back of the car the more it affects the handling off the car.

Does the wheel track of the trailer match the car. This is particular important when driving in sand but helps in mud and bush also. If the trailer wheels follow the same line as the wheels on the car there is less drag in the sand. In mud or on bush tracks there is less risk of staking a tyres cause it is followinf the car not making its own track.

What suspension set up is on the trailer. There is all sorts of suspension set ups arond from standard leaf to trailing wish bone to full independant. Remember when your trailer is fully loaded it is heavier than the trailer in the show room, so the suspension needs to handle the extra weight and bumps around Australia. Is there enough room between the tyres and the mud guards. This sounds funny but a lot of trailers don't allow a lot or room for bigger tyres or even original tyres. We went with a standard heavy duty leaf spring. By keeping it simple, if anything goes wrong with it then it is easy to fix.  The more complicated it is the harder it is to fix. After 75000 kms we have not had any trouble with the suspension.

Do the rims/tyres  on the trailer fit the car. We have 1 spare on the car and 2 on the trailer. Having the trailer and car wheels interchangable allows for more flexibility. If tyres on the car are getting worn swap them for the trailer tyres as the trailer tyres wear less quickly than the car tyres do as they simple get towed a long instead of being driven. This allows you to get better mileage from your tyres.

Is the trailer wider than the car. Having it the same width as the car is an advantage when narrow tracks in the bush.

Is there protection from stones or rocks over water tanks ect. Water tanks are usually located under the trailer and are suseptible to rock damage. Is there some form of protection and is it really strong enough.

Does the trailer have a stone guard on the front. A stone guard has 2 functions. Firstly it helps to protect the front of the trailer from stone damage. This helps to keep the trailer in good condition so the guard should protect the whole front of the trailer. Secondly the stone guard stops stones/rocks from hitting the front of the trailer and bouncing back onto the car and smashing the rear window. The stone guard should be well built and strong as it will cop a beating. Look at clearance from the guard with turning and from the ground. Make sure it won't affect your turning circle or ground clerance when offroad.

Check the quality of  the canvas. It should be either 12 or 14 oz canvas. Some cheaper trailers are only 8 - 10 oz. This lighter canvas is harder to keep water proof. Colour of canvas is a personal choice but remember lighter colours show dirt easier.

 When looking at trailers ask them to put it up for you so you can see how easy/hard it is. If they don't want to then it's probably not worth it. Ask if you can modify the trailer to suit your own needs. We added some things like the sink and tap, we changed the set up of the bench top from lift up to a slide. We also added a 2nd spare tyre and gas bottle.

Can the trailer be built for your car. All cars are  different hieghts/widths and the trailer should sit level when attatched to the car.